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Happy Earth Day 2018!

Another year, another earth day! There are most likely holidays for every single day of the year, many made up and pretty much unknown of, but earth day is a good one for me to remember. It reminds me to consider what I’m doing in life to be more earth friendly and if there is more I could be doing. Here’s 3 things I’m evaluating now that I can start doing!

 

1 – Get my electricity from renewable sources

A like-minded coworker told me about Arcadia Power, a company that let’s you use renewable power without high costs. Two months ago I signed up for their basic plan that gives me 50% of my electricity from wind. I’m still getting my power directly from my local utility provider, but Arcadia is able to buy certificates for wind power putting it into the power grid.

Now I just upgraded to getting 100% of my power through wind! With the basic plan I didn’t see any increase in my bills, with 100% I’m supposed to see a small increase of a few dollars. More to come later on how it goes!

My referral link is below for anyone who wants to sign up. Might as well get the referral bonuses for me and you!

Arcadia Power referral link

 

2 – Walk instead of drive

I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of places within walking distance from my home. I have two grocery stores I walk to regularly already, but when it comes to eating out I generally hop into the car. Yesterday night I walked to get some conveyer belt sushi. A bit nippy at night but I made sure to pack a windbreaker so I was fine. Today for lunch I’ll also do the same. If walking isn’t an option then choosing a location where you can get to as many places as possible (say a large plaza with everything you need) is another great option. Just park somewhere and walk to where you need to go!

 

3 – The straw issue

Oof, this just happened last night where I asked for water but forgot to ask for it without a straw. I’m trying to not use straws at all but it’s so easy to forget to ask for no straw! It’s used so regularly almost everywhere we go! Some places have switched to no straws at all or paper straws. The paper straws get pummeled pretty easily though and turn into mush pretty quickly. I just need to remember when asking for water. No straw please!

 

How are you spending your earth day? What’s your latest earth friendly trick?

Inspirational Spotlight – Ryan’s Recycling Company

Photo from Ryan's Recycling Company
Photo from Ryan’s Recycling Company

 

Every now and then I run across people/businesses/stories that are just so inspiration it helps keep me going and makes me want to share it with everyone! Well, what better place than a blog right? I’ve shared other businesses before but this post will be all about one little seven year old boy’s recycling business!

Starting at the very old ripe age of 3.5 years Ryan began recycling cans and bottles. I can definitely imagine a little boy having tons of fun putting in the cans and bottles into the recycling machine and getting some mule for his efforts. Fast forward 3.5 years later and Ryan has started his own company and has even been on the Ellen show! His company has also been featured in several publications and to date he’s made over $10,000 recycling cans and bottles alone!!! What an incredible story. Ryan’s goal is to buy a garbage truck for his business but his parentals are thinking it’s more for a college fund.

He’s already accomplished so much by the age of 7!

If you live in Orange County, California you can schedule Ryan to pick your cans and bottles! Either way check out his website below.
Ryan’s Recycling Company

Another thing you can do to help out is to buy a Ryan’s Recycling t-shirt with proceeds going towards the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, California.
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for women
Ryan’s Recycling T-shirt for guys

It’s pretty rare to hear about someone so young doing something so big! If a seven year old can do this to make the world better, what’s stopping us?

Alternative Materials

 Photo Credit: guillermogg via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: guillermogg via Compfight cc

When is the last time you actually paid attention to the tag sewn to the inside of a shirt? Usually when I go shopping the tag I look at is the price tag to see if it’s affordable or not. It’s not until recently that I started being more aware of what materials go into making all our clothes.

Most of the clothing sold in the USA is made of synthetic fabrics like polyester and rayon. Stuff that is cheap to produce and thus means a cheaper price tag. It confirms to the American demand for cheap and plentiful products. Those materials aren’t great for you though and can be smelly and pretty hot on a warm day. Even though those clothes might be cheap initially they also don’t last very long. I’ve been being more careful to always check the type of fabric before I buy anything. 100% cotton is much harder to find that I thought! Organic and recycled fabrics are even harder to find.

Pricier but lasts longer
This isn’t always the case but overall I’ve found that brands with higher price points tend to have better quality items. The upfront cost will be more but then the clothes will last much longer. I used to shop at places like Forever 21 where everything inevitable gets a hole or a few holes in it. Everything is pretty inexpensive there but they don’t bother making the clothes well because they figure most people change their wardrobes every season.

Better for my health
I have sensitive skin and a lot of things can set off some irritations. Breathable fabrics like cotton are much better and feel more comfortable. It doesn’t stick to me as much and as I wear it gets softer over time.

Earth-friendly
Synthetic fabrics are made using petroleum and chemical processes. Organic cotton and alternatives like bamboo and hemp uses process with less chemicals and no bleaching. It’s definitely more expensive to buy but if it’s better for the environment I’m for it!

 

Slowly my wardrobe is turning over from cheap synthetic fabrics to ones that will last much longer. A lot of my tees and tanks actually have holes in it but I’m trying to be frugal and use it til it falls off. Haha the life of someone trying to save money!

Do you ever look at the tags when shopping for clothing?

Bread machine, bread machine, bake me bread!

Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc

I am absolutely, undeniably a bread fiend! If I had to go on the atkins diet then I wouldn’t last a day. By the end of the first day I would probably find myself finishing off an entire loaf of bread without realizing it. All the health experts say that carbs aren’t the best thing for us, but I cannot survive without! Well technically I could but I would be pretty darn miserable.

For my birthday my husband wasn’t supposed to get me anything but he did and it was absolutely the perfect gift! A bread machine! I’ve never thought about getting one to make my own bread and instead have dabbled in trying some recipes using my mixer to knead the dough. So far I’ve baked two loaves and I’m pretty hooked now. It’s extremely easy to use. All it takes is measuring the ingredients correctly, dropping them into the bread machine, hitting a few buttons and 3 hours or so later a perfect loaf of bread is ready for my consumption. Beyond the obvious benefit of having fresh bread whenever I want there’s also other reasons.

Saving mula
By making bread from scratch all I’m paying for is the initial cost of the machine, the cost of ingredients, and electricity. I have an Oster bread machine which was about $60. It’s comparable to many pricier models and my husband knew that I would’ve objected had he bought something else. After calculating the cost of yeast and bread flour and adding in small amounts to cover the rest of the ingredients and electricity, each bread load comes out to about $1.50 each. If I buy bread flour in bulk I’m sure I can cut that cost down even more! It’ll take me some time to recoup the initial cost of the machine, but with each loaf I save 2-4 depending on what I would’ve bought at the store!

Healthier without preservatives and additives
Best part about making my own food from scratch is that I have more control over what ingredients I’m using. There are no preservatives in the bread I’m baking! To make bread all I really need is yeast, salt, flour and water. There are other ingredients depending on the recipe but overall that’s really it! If I buy bread at the store I can only read the ingredient list to see what they used but I still don’t really know how good the ingredients were.

Gift option
A fresh loaf of bread would be a great gift for a housewarming party or for someone who loves bread as much as I do! People give cookies and cakes all the time as gifts. Why not bread too? A loaf of store bought bread won’t really be impressive, but a homemade loaf of bread made especially for the recipient is something else.

Better for the earth
No transport or packaging needed! I’ve saved some fossil fuels and helped keep the air a bit cleaner. I just toss my bread into a reusable container too. No more need for bread bags and twist ties or those plastic tabs. The bread bag is recyclable actually but now no need to create the bag in the first place. While twist ties and plastic tabs are small they do add up over time.

 

I’m excited to try out my next bread recipe to see what else I can devour! This is the perfect appliance for someone like me.

Do you use a bread machine for fresh bread or are you more of a traditional bread maker?

Recycling Odds and Ends

Photo Credit: BrittneyBush via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: BrittneyBush via Compfight cc

I’ve been recycling paper, aluminum cans, and glass bottles for as long as I can remember. It started when my grandma used to take me to the local market to turn in some glass bottles for money. Good money lesson to learn very early on in life! From there curbside recycling was introduced and I always made sure to recycle whatever I could. I kept a pile of partially used paper to scribble on the other side or to use for random art projects. Now I’m in a city where the curbside recycling takes a lot of different plastics and bottles. It’s a much more expansive program than in Ohio where it was only the basics you could recycle. I end up recycling so much in fact that my trash output is pretty low.

With all the options I have here for recycling there are still a lot of items that I can’t just toss into the recycling bin. That’s where a company like Terracycle comes in!

It’s about time I wrote about this! It’s a company that takes items that aren’t generally recyclable curbside and turns them into new products or recycles them! The best part about it all is that you can earn points for a school and it’s entirely free to participate! Most of the participants are schools that are earning points but as an individual you can also help keep the landfills emptier by gathering items yourself. They have brigades that you sign up for to collect certain kinds of items to send in. Shipping is free and a lot of the items they take are everyday items. Terracycle either makes sure that these items are recycled or they make them into new items to sell.

It’s a pretty interesting company and I love participating! Even doing this by myself I’ve been able to send in a ton of items. I love knowing that these items are being recycled or turned into another product. Some of the items they accept can be tossed into my curbside container but they aren’t recyclable in other parts of the US. Items that aren’t very recyclable are usually turned into something else like a bag made of Capri Sun pouches. It’s pretty popular though so you might get wait-listed on some of the brigades they have.

Here’s a quick list of items that they collect:
Brita filters and pitchers and packaging
Candy wrappers
Cheese packaging
Personal care and makeup containers
Toothbrushes, toothpaste bottles, floss containers
Cigarette butts
Inkjet and toners
Snack chip bags
Writing instruments

It’s more effort than normal recycling since these are generally items we use everyday but last a long time. I just gather all mine in a box and when its full ship it off! It’s good to know I can do more for the environment and it doesn’t cost me anything to do. I just re-use old boxes of course to not waste any money.

To go beyond recycling here’s their website!
Terracycle